January 14, 2010
December 12, 2009
October 31, 2009
Update: This recipe and most of the others that precede it are all from my high fat raw vegan days – these days I’ve transitioned to a primarily low fat raw vegan diet and feel better than ever and encourage everyone interested in the raw lifestyle to do the same.
These recipes are still all great though, especially for introducing friends and family to raw food recipes. Enjoy!
Halloween is the first holiday of the season to come and I always find the challenge of converting standard holiday fare into raw a lot of fun. This year, I did an improved version of the same super cool scary finger cookies I did last year, and also “Deviled Chocolates”, which were firm chocolate creams of salted chocolate and smokey chipotle chocolate. These are definitely high fat and a special treat for friends and family who might not otherwise try a raw food dish. They were made with avocado, coco butter, agave and cacao powder, then chilled until firm. Like a mini tart without the crust. To eat them you just squeeze the wrapper and they rise like push-up popsicles.
I generally stay away from processed foods like agave, (preferring date syrup), but for occasions like this, it’s a once a year thing so I let it go as the taste of agave is more acceptable to those who are accustomed to the flavor of refined sugar. The recipe was made up á la minute so proportions are general and it’s very easy – you can’t really go wrong. I’ve found that grated orange zest absolutely makes these fingers so don’t skip that ingredient !
HALLOWEEN FINGER COOKIES
- 1 cup almonds, crunchy ( soak them overnight then dehydrate them back to crunchy before using in the recipe) OR almond meal for a moister cookie
- 6 medjool dates soaked until completely soft in as little warm water as possible (just enough to cover them halfway)
- 2 vanilla beans or 1/2 tsp powder
- 1/8 cup agave
- 1 level tablespoon cinnamon
- pinch of fine celtic salt
- zest of one fresh orange
Powder the nuts in a high speed blender or in batches in a spice grinder/coffee grinder and empty into a mixing bowl. Blend the dates with their soak water into a puree. There can be a few chunks but not too many. Pour the date puree into the mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients and stir with your hands until you get a firm dough that will hold whatever shape you squeeze it into.
Take walnut sized nuggets of the dough and squeeze in one hand until you have a ridged log “finger”. Squeeze a few times until you get a good shape, place the log on a cutting board and form a finger tip by pressing an almond into one end while squeezing the dough under the nut into a firm, well-shaped finger-tip with your other hand. Leave the other end rough, because – it’s a sawed-off finger, right? …Ew.
Anyhoo. Put them all in the dehydrator overnight or at least for a few hours until firm and dry to the touch, then watch people flip out over them! Enjoy ~~~
August 14, 2009
It’s in the dog days of summer that fruit smoothies really come into their own. A few frozen chunks of pineapple, some fresh, sweet, cold mango and the surprise of supernaturally fushia dragonfruit, really makes for solid refreshment. I add fresh turmeric because it is readily available here and I love it with mango, (you might not, it’s a bit strong) along with half a banana for creamyness. Sooo goood. This is so simple, so incredibly delicious and so satisfying.
Dragonfruits are wonderfully juicy and I love the seeds. They crunch very lightly, exactly like kiwi seeds. It turns out they contain about 50% omega 6 and over 20% omega 9. They must be chewed to release the efa’s but they are so fun to crunch that you can rest assured you’re getting a healthy hit of omega’s, if not the full daily requirement. The more we source it naturally, the better it is for us.
The juice is a rich fushia and it doesn’t really stain your fingers as long as you rinse before it sits for more than a few minutes.
Here is a little mango smoothie with a dragonfruit accompaniment I made for my neighbor, who wasn’t too sure how she felt about having it ; ) Turns out she loved it) !
The rest was for me…
I like to put cubes of fruit or seeds like chia or germinated sunflower seeds into a smoothie so that I remember to chew it instead of just drink it down. It’s more delicious that way and looks gorgeous too, in this case!
Fruit smoothies are also the perfect brain food when you’re working hard mentally! And therefore, perfect computer food. The reason so many computer geeks live on junk food is that they need the glucose blast. If only they chose fresh fruit smoothies instead! Life changing…
August 4, 2009
I hesitate to post something that seems so simple, but I remember a time when I really wasn’t very confident in my pineapple carving technique. :) So for anyone who can benefit from seeing it laid out for you from someone who has since gained plenty of experience – allow me to present below, my ever so refined technique!
First, holding it by the crown with one hand, tip it onto it’s side and slice about an inch off of the bottom so that it will stand upright. Then tip it again to slice off the crown. If you live in a warm climate or have a greenhouse, you may plant the crown and grow your own! Take it from someone who has feasted on homegrown pineapples, it is worth the wait.
Sit it upright and with one hand stabilizing it, use a very sharp chef’s knife or a serrated bread knife, to slice the rind off as thinly as possible. As you can see, I don’t worry much about going deep enough to remove the “eyes” because I want as much fruit as possible and I don’t really mind them.
Once the rind is removed, slice it in half, then halve those halves.
With a regular yellow pineapple many slice out the woody core but white pineapples are so tender, there’s no need. I always just eat the core, or most of it, because it’s an excellent source of bromelain, a vital digestive enzyme.
Also, it’s worth knowing that pineapple is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, an essential co-factor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. I’ve begun taking a lot of extra anti-oxidants to help provide natural sun-protection in order to cut down on sunscreen use and it’s good to know that my recent affinity for pineapple is very likely the body’s natural balance kicking in with the appropriate message…the rewards of listening.
This lovely specimen was grown by a generous neighbor on his micro-farm just up the road from my house. We did a trade actually. I visited him to get plant starts of the Chinese herb He Shou Wou or fo ti as it is also known, and for payment he asked for a trade in return. So I gave him a box of fresh goji berries , knowing he would want to plant them, and was then given this incredible bonus in addition to the plant stock: white pineapple freshly picked from his organic farm! It’s been so long since I’ve come across these, that I nearly forgot just how good they were.
If you’d like to try a Kona Sugarloaf, as the Hawaiian white pineapple is known, (sometimes called Brazilian White elsewhere), be on the lookout because, though seasonal, they can be found in markets with a good fruit department in mid-summer. Juicy and sweet, and just the barest hint of tang to let you know you’re biting into a divine fruit and that this is a moment to be cherished as absolutely sacred! Seriously. These are good. With flavors of sweet pineapple, ripe pear and maybe a touch of kiwi, (hey, that would be a fantastic smoothie : ), you are sent to a heaven of deliciousness that has to be tasted to be believed. Just another example of why we need to support agricultural diversity – we have no idea what incredible fruits and vegetables are still out there, off the beaten, supermarket path!
July 30, 2009
After making coconut water kefir the other day, I was left with the coco meat and the tantalizing option to make coconut kefir yogurt presented itself. While the water takes up to 48 hours to culture, the yogurt only takes overnight.
I scooped out the meat – perfectly tender, deliciously gelantinous young coco meat – into the blender and added just enough water to bring it to the consistency of heavy cream. As I learned from making seed yogurt, if it’s not fluid enough it won’t culture properly and can spoil before the beneficial bacteria get a chance to propagate. So add a bit of liquid – a bit of coco water or filtered water is perfect.
Next, I added the same Body Ecology kefir powder I used to make the cultured coco water and blended it, adding the tiniest bit of liquid and adjusting the fluidity as I went until it was somewhere between loose regular yogurt and heavy cream.
As I mentioned in the cocowater post, I’ll use the water kefir grains for daily use simply because they are the sustainable option, having no packaging to throw away. You can order them from me for $15, including shipping, by emailing me. Thanks again, Irina!
I wanted to try this powder starter to see how it works and so far it seems just fine. Certainly convenient. Will be useful for travel, when you really want to insure healthy inner bacteria balance. And now that coco water is available almost anywhere, life is becoming so easy! I mean, about 4 years ago, I found fresh Thai coco’s in, of all places, an Oklahoma Walmart!
As you can see in the photo above, it has nearly doubled in size and is full of bubbles that show that the beneficial bacteria are busy loving life! Bless them, then welcome them to their new home – your belly – where they will live long, productive lives of beneficial, prosperous creativity.
When I tasted it the next morning, it was slightly fizzy, super creamy and quite tart. I had some goji berries left over from making homemade goji juice and used them as a topping along with a spoonful of honey.
An aside about honey and bee pollen: I am careful to only use honey that is far, (hundreds of miles far), from regions where GMO plants might be grown. This honey is raw Himalayan forest honey and I can only hope it’s far from any GMO’s blowing in the wind. I also only get New Zealand bee pollen for the same reason – their country has very strict laws about allowing live GMO plants in their country from what I understand and so I tend to trust that their pollen is virtually guaranteed GMO-free.
It’s pretty much impossible to say that for anywhere else, because, being specifically designed by Nature to carry genetic info from plant to plant, pollen travels on the wind and can be blown for distances of hundreds of miles, not to mention the fact that pollinating insects are designed to carry it far and wide. I avoid conspiracy theories like the plague but of course the principles of pollination were understood when agri-biz began producing gmo’s, so it really is worth it to vote with your dollars by only purchasing things that your educated guess determines likely to be non-gmo or are clearly labeled non-gmo.
July 27, 2009
Vegans must generally be very well educated about the needs of the body to ensure they maintain a healthy balance. Actually, everyone today needs to be well-educated considering that the overuse of highly engineered, sugared foods in daily life and the overuse of anti-biotics in the health industry have both become so widespread that a body is hard-pressed to remain in balance without being constantly vigilant about what we allow into our system.
Food has become such a complex issue with the advent of commercial production methods and the widespread, and clearly incompatible-with-life use of chemicals in nearly every place you look. With conditions such as these to deal with, pre and pro-biotics can be major allies in bringing balance to our bodies.
As a long-term raw vegan, (though I do have honey occasionally), I am always on the lookout for the healthiest, most diverse options I can find for nutritional balance – and for pro-biotics, I’ve found that for many reasons, cultured foods are definitely the way to go.
Exploration has brought me to the fortunate discovery of kefir, and water kefir in particular. I’ve known about dairy kefir forever, but only learned of water kefir a few years ago. I’m getting back into it again, and thought I’d share my re-discovery with you.
I’m trying the Body Ecology kefir starter and it’s so far so good, but I can tell that I’ll be returning to the actual kefir grains for daily use. That’s the traditional form they come in and they grow and are shared in the same way Kombucha babies are, which is to say, multiplying in form so that you always have more than enough to share with others. I do think the B.E. starter will be good for traveling though, due to it’s convenience.
Kefir has been used for centuries to culture milk. The grains are a combination of beneficial bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars, which form a symbiotic matrix of translucent grains about the size of rice or barley and resemble miniature cauliflower florets. And, goodness gracious, does it ever have an interesting history thanks to the prophet Mohammad who, it was fun to discover, was quite an interesting guy! For example, according to his entry in Wikipedia, when he was 25 he married a 40 year old highly successful business woman, after she proposed to him! Things have certainly changed in Saudi Arabia, that’s for sure. After reading the tale in the link, one does wonder how Mohammad would feel about the way things are in Islam now…
According to Wikipedia, before he switched vocations, Mohammad was a merchant who traveled between his hometown of Mecca, and the Mediterranean doing business. In his travels he gave, or traded – who knows for sure – kefir grains to people who came from what is now Russia. Thus began the long, unbroken chain of kefir culture throughout the history of the western world. This story elaborates how it came into popular usage and is another absolutely intriguing tale!
So, we all owe many thanks to Mohammad and his beloved wife and especially to Irina (see above link to story), as we use our kefir products. Wow.
To carry on then, into the present, we can now use kefir to culture coconut water to make a vital and healthful beverage. I also made coconut yogurt which will be featured in the next post.
The Body Ecology starter makes it very easy, all you do is empty the packet into a quart of coco water, shake and wait for 3 to 4 days for it to culture. It becomes slightly fizzy and quite tart, like unsweetened yogurt.